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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Fragments


(Loeb Classical Library edition, 1940)

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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 p227  Appendix III
The Old Chronicle

(from Syncellus)

Now, among the Egyptians there is current an old chronography,1 by which indeed, I believe, Manetho2 has been led into error.

In 30 dynasties with 113 generations, it comprises an immense period of time [not the same as Manetho gives] in 36,525 years,3 dealing first with the Aeritae,4 next with the Mestraei, and thirdly with the Egyptians. Its contents are somewhat as follows: —

Dynasties of the Gods according to the Old Chronicle

Hêphaestus has no period assigned, because he shines night and day. Hêlios [the Sun], son of  p229 Hêphaestus, ruled for 30,000 years. Then Cronos (it says) and the remaining gods, 12 in number, reigned altogether for 3984 years. Next, the eight demi-gods were kings for 217 years; and after them 15 generations of the Sôthic Cycle are recorded with 443 years.5

Then follow:

The Sixteenth Dynasty of King of Tanis, in 8 generations, for 190 years.

The Seventeenth Dynasty of Kings of Memphis, in 4 generations, for 103 years.

The Eighteenth Dynasty of Kings of Memphis, in 14 generations, for 348 years.

The Nineteenth Dynasty of Kings of Diospolis, in 5 generations, for 194 years.

The Twentieth Dynasty of Kings of Diospolis, in 8 generations, for 228 years.

The Twenty-first Dynasty of Kings of Tanis, in 6 generations, for 121 years.

The Twenty-second Dynasty of Kings of Tanis, in 3 generations, for 48 years.

The Twenty-third Dynasty of Kings of Diospolis, in 2 generations, for 19 years.

The Twenty-fourth Dynasty of Kings of Saïs, in 3 generations, for 44 years.

The Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Ethiopian Kings, in 3 generations, for 44 years.

The Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Kings of Memphis, in 7 generations, for 177 years.

 p231  The Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Persian Kings, in 5 generations, for 124 years.

[The Twenty-eighth Dynasty is here omitted — one king of Saïs reigning for 6 years.]

Then comes the Twenty-ninth Dynasty of Kings of Tanis in <7> generations for 39 years; and finally the Thirtieth Dynasty consists of one King of Tanis for 18 years. The sum total of all the 30 Dynasties comprises 36,525 years.

If this total is broken up, or divided, 25 times into periods of 1461 years, it reveals the periodic return of the Zodiac which is commonly referred to in Egyptian and Greek books, that is, its revolution from one point back to that same point again, namely, the first minute of the first degree of the equinoctial sign of the Zodiac, the Ram as it is called by them, according to the account given in The General Discourses of Hermês and in the Cyranides.

Hence it was, I suppose, that Claudius Ptolemaeus6 announced that the ready astronomical tables should be calculated in periods of 25 years . . .

Hence, too, the lack of harmony between such systems and our Holy Scriptures, as well as between one system and another, may be explained by the fact that this Egyptian record, which is held to be of great antiquity, assigns an immense period to Hêphaestus, and to the remaining 297 Dynasties 36,525 years, although Hêphaestus ruled over Egypt  p233 many years after the Flood and the Building of the Tower, as will be shown in the appropriate place.

The illustrious Egyptian Manetho, writing of these same 30 Dynasties, and obviously taking this as his starting-point, is widely divergent thereafter in the dates he gives, as one may learn both from what I have already said above, and from the remarks that will follow immediately. For in his three books, 113 generations are recorded in 30 Dynasties, and the time which he assigns amounts in all to 3555 years, beginning with Anno mundi 1586 and ending with 5147 [5141], or some 15 years before the conquest of the world by Alexander of Macedon.

If therefore one subtracts from this total the 656 years before the Flood in order to make up [with 1586] the 2242 years from Adam to the Flood, — these 656 years being regarded as falsely assigned or non‑existent, — and the 534 years from the Flood to the Building of the Tower, the Confusion of Tongues, and the Dispersion of the Peoples, one will clearly find the rise of the kingdom of Egypt under the first Egyptian king, Mestraïm, who is by Manetho called Mênês, which began in the year 2776, the year of Adam, and continued down to Nectanebô, the last king of Egypt. Thus the sum total from Mestraïm down to this Nectanebô is 2365 years, which takes us, as has already been stated, to Anno mundi 5147 [5141] approximately 15 years before the rule of Alexander the Founder.

The Editor's Notes:

1 The Old Chronicle is dated by Gutschmid to the end of the second century after Christ. Gelzer would refer its statements to another source than Manetho, perhaps Ptolemy of Mendês; while Meyer regards it as the work of Panôdorus, c. A.D. 400 (cf. Fr. 2).

2 By the name Manetho Syncellus refers, as always, to the Book of Sôthis (App. IV).

3 The actual total of years from the items given, if 6 years be assigned to Dynasty XXVIII, is 36,347, i.e. 178 years less than the total given in the text. The number of generations, 113, is obtained by counting 1 for Dynasty XXVIII and 7 for XXIX. This vast world-period of 36,525 years is 25 times the Sôthic period of 1461 calendar years (or 1460 Sôthic years): see infra, and for the Sôthic period, Intro. pp. xxvii f.º

4 Aeritae and Mestraei are really the same as the third race, et Egyptians, the three names apparently referring to Egypt at three different dates. Aeria is an old name of Egypt (Euseb., Chron. in Syncellus, p293, Armenian Version (Schöne, p30), Aegyptus quae prius Aeria dicebatur . . .). Mestraei (Josephus, Antiq. 1.6.2) — from Mestraïm (p7 n 2).

5 This total comes, not from the Book of Sôthis which gives 395 for the first 15, but from Eratosthenes (App. II). A smaller total than Manetho's 3357 years was desired in order to shorten the duration of the historical age of Egypt.

6 Claudius Ptolemaeus, the famous mathematician, astronomer, and geographer, c. A.D. 100‑178: for his Ready Tables see p5 in the other section of this volume.

Thayer's Note: The reference is a mystery.

The "other section of this volume" refers to the translation of Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos which, in this printing (1964) is bound together with Manetho in the same volume. Now as it happens, the Tetrabiblos is also onsite here, complete, transcribed from a 1980 printing of the same Loeb edition, by which time the work was bound by itself: but I've compared the contents and pagination of this page of Ptolemy in both printings — and they are the same, with p5 (q.v.) not relevant. In this same edition of the Tetrabiblos, the Ready Tables are only mentioned once, in passing (Introduction, p. x), in an enumeration of Ptolemy's works.

7 An obviously incorrect summary of the enumeration of Dynasties given above.

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